greek salad, pizza, white beans, and soup

A few things I’ve made lately:

This was easy and good.  One small onion, chopped.  A couple of cloves of garlic, minced.  A cup of dried white beans, rinsed but not soaked. 14 oz of canned tomatoes.  A handful of chopped fresh basil. One bay leaf. Cover by an inch and cook overnight. I cooked it on high but you might need to just do it on low. I pretty much discovered that I don’t like doing it overnight, tho because I don’t like smelling food cooking when I’m trying to sleep. Next time I’ll do it during the day.

slow cooker white beans

slow cooker white beans

Minestrone soup and greek salad

Minestrone soup and greek salad

Greek salad in Greece doesn’t have any lettuce. It’s just chunked feta and tomatoes. Sometimes they also add cucumbers and/or olives. Top it with some dried herbs and olive oil. This one was made with some junky grocery store feta. Later in the week I made it again with some fancy feta from Whole Foods and it was much better.
greek salad

greek salad

I found this minestrone recipe a million years ago and make it with whatever I have on hand. For example, this time I didn’t have any barley so I used pasta wheels instead.
Magic Minestrone

Magic Minestrone

Also, I usually put a sort of pesto-esque topping on it. It’s just chopped up basil, garlic, parmesean, and olive oil. It adds a nice touch.

pesto soup topping

pesto soup topping

The next day I put the rest of the topping onto a homemade cheese pizza.

simple pizza

simple pizza

Then topped that with some arugula and tomatoes. Delish.

salad pizza

salad pizza

We bought this yummy beer at the local wine shop. it is actually made just a couple miles down the street from here at Bristol Brewing . It’s my new favorite.

Bristol Brewing Yellow Kite from Colorado Springs
Bristol Brewing Yellow Kite from Colorado Springs

That’s about all I made last week. I’ve been lazy cuz it’s been so hot here.

BBQ short ribs, cold sesame noodles, grilled veggies, and banana sundaes- recipes included.

Sometimes I like to try new things at the Whole Foods prepared counter. I like to see if they’re good, then find a recipe for them to may myself- they have a lot of recipes for their prepared stuff on their website. Last week I tried these cold sesame noodles which were really good. I couldn’t find the exact recipe so I modified this one which was similar, and to use stuff I already had in the house and to still be able to make it like the one from the store.

Whole Foods Cold Sesame Noodles
Whole Foods Cold Sesame Noodles

Here’s what I did:

1 TBS rice vinegar

1 TBS soy sauce

1/2 TBS sesame oil

1/2 TBS chili paste

pinch of salt

1 TBS chopped cilantro

1 clove garlic, pressed

1/2 tsp brown sugar

1/4 pound udon noodles

1/4 orange bell pepper, well chopped

Mix the vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, cilantro, garlic, and brown sugar in a small bowl to make the dressing.

Cooke the noodles according to package directions, be sure not to overcook! Once they’re cooked drain the noodles and run them under cold water right away.

In a larger bowl, gently toss the noodles, dressing, and bell pepper together.

it should be pretty cold because you cooled off the noodles when you rinsed them but you can chill it further or for sure put it in the fridge if you aren’t going to eat it right away. I think it was really good and DM really liked it, too.

My version of cold sesame noodles

My version of cold sesame noodles

We had it with grilled/BBQed boneless beef short ribs. We finally wanted to fire up the grill! I hadn’t used it in awhile and wasn’t sure how it would behave and didn’t want to accidentally waste an expensive cut of meat. You’re not really supposed to be able to grill short ribs but the ones I got looked pretty good and like they’d work. So I found this recipe and did it. I didn’t use their BBQ sauce recipe, I got one from The Joy Of Cooking instead. I imagine it would work with just about any BBQ sauce. I was very careful to watch them and keep testing them with the instant read thermometer. They came out really good, I was pretty happy. Dange was too.

Grilled boneless beef short ribs.

Grilled boneless beef short ribs.


And grilled mixed veggies. Just some olive oil, salt, and pepper and onto the grill they want. I like them pretty soft so it took about 45 minutes.

Grilled vegetables

Grilled vegetables

Then later we had this simple dessert. I melted some chocolate chips with some half and half to make a sauce, then drizzled it over vanilla ice cream and bananas. Really good!

Banana Sundae
Banana Sundae

Thanksgiving Dinner

Since I was in L.A. last week and DM had vegan Thanksgiving with his mom on Thanksgiving, I decided to make my annual Thanksgiving Not On Thanksgiving dinner tonight. It’s a rerun (now a tradition!) of the first one I made for DM in Phoenix two years ago.

Roast chicken
Stuffing from a package from Whole Foods with added green onions, celery and mushrooms
Buttermilk mashed potatoes
Green beans with red wine vinegar roasted onions
Whole Foods cranberry sauce
I also made a pumpkin pie which I’ll take a picture of later.

In a little while we’re going to walk down to the dive bar we first went to on this very date two years ago when we moved in here. We walked then and it was snowing like mad. Tonight it’s cold but I think it’s done snowing for now.

BTW we’re moving again in a couple weeks. Not far, just downtown, which will be fun and walking distance to all the bars, shops and restaurants we like to go to.

Grand Junction, Palisade, Rifle Gap, Hanging Lake, Glenwood Springs

This weekend we went all the way across the state to do some camping, wine tasting, and hiking. It was fun!  

We took I70 which goes all the way up to 12,000 feet in elevation. I didn’t get as much altitude sickness as I usually do, so yay. We went thru the mile and a half tunnel, too. Scary.

We stopped at Starbucks in the AM on the first day and in the AM on the second day. They have a thing where if you get a drink in the AM you can get another one in the PM for 2 bucks. I didn’t have my receipt but I bet they would have let me get a 2 dollar drink on day three even tho I didn’t go there in the AM that day. They’re usually pretty nice that way.

Anyhow it was raining on and off the whole trip so we didn’t have huge hopes of being able to sleep outside.

We wanted to go to Rifle Falls State Park but all the spots were taken by the time we got there. So we stayed at Rifle Gap instead. It was pretty flat but had a nice lake that people were boating and skiing and all that on. It wasn’t all that crowded either which was nice.

This is a little path from the campground to the lake. It was threatening to rain so I wore my slicker!

 Our camp site:

The view from our campsite:

I made this yummy steak salad before we left and we ate it when we got to the campground. It was delish.

I also made “magic dream bars” or as DM calls them, “fantasticos”. You know, those things with the sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, graham grackers and coconut. We bought a tent before we left but we figured it would rain and we might have to sleep in the car, which of course we did. DM is gonna seal it better before next time.
We also didn’t get to have a campfire that night but since it was clear the next morning we had one then. We had hot dogs (yummy from Whole Foods) and smores for breakfast…:)

After we left the campground we went over to Grand Junction which is right on the border with Utah. Totally different climate from most of the rest of Colorado. Very desert-ish. Also full of orchards and wineries.  Palisade actually has the orchards and wineries.

We stopped at  Carlson Vineyards and did a tasting. It was really good so we bought a bottle. There was a big wedding party there but the people in charge made sure we were also taken care of.

I had read that this winery had a kitty cat for a mascot which is why I wanted to go to it. I guess they have three cats now. This guy was a kitten and very fierce. Here he is attacking a frog. DM saved the frog and it peed on his hand. Then we realized the cat probably wouldn’t actually hurt the frog. He really seemed to enjoy his life at the winery running all in and out of the vines, chasing hapless smaller animals, etc.

We also stopped at a bunch of peach orchards and bought peaches and other fruit. AND a pie. A homemade blackberry pie from Ranch Fruita Country Store. This woman makes them out of her industrial kitchen that’s attatched to her house. Her husband was hanging out on the porch in a rocking chair. Hee hee. says this about them: “Lloyd and Betty Tidwell prepare and sell pies and jerky at Rancho Fruita. Betty bakes pies reminiscent of Grandma’s and the jerky is quite tasty and made from the eye of a round steak.”
We didn’t try the jerky but I wish we had!

Later we went down to a little lake by the winery and DM did some fishing while I read a book and drank some wine. He doesn’t like to eat the fish so he puts them back in once he gets them. He cast his line out and not 10 seconds later he had caught one! Fish freak me out so I didn’t get a picture of it. About an hour later a storm blew in all crazy so we had to leave.

After that we went to a The Ale House and had dinner. It was PACKED. I guess they don’t have a recession in Grand Junction. DM had a flatiron steak and I had fried chicken which really wasn’t fried chicken, it was more like a fried chicken breast. It was good tho and the mashed potatoes and string beans were awesome. Sorry no pics, I forgot the camera.

The next day we went on a hike. And not just any hike. 2.5 miles round trip. Fine. But we gained 1000 feet in elevation in a mile and a quarter. OMG I had to stop like 20 times. We felt lame because pregnant women and old ladies wearing sandals were passing us. Not really . They were coming down tho, so we know they made it up there. Maybe they had to stop 30 times. I dunno. Even tho it was clear and sunny when we left I knew better- this is Colorado! I brought my slicker again. And sure enough it rained before we even got to the top. I didn’t need to wear the slicker cuz it was actually pretty nice to have the rain while hiking in the hot. But I was glad to have it tied around my waist to protect my denim shorts (doh) from getting soaked.

Partly it was so hard because it was so steep but also because it was really rocky as you can see here.

But this was at the top. It’s called Hanging Lake and some special columbines (CO state flower) that only grow there were in bloom. The lakebed is travertine which is neat. And why it’s so clear and blue. While we were hiking up, a train went by way at the bottom of the canyon but it was sooo loud because of the echo. It sounded like it was coming right at us!

Because we didn’t have enough hiking to get there, we hiked another 300 yards to get up to the top and behind some other falls that feed the main falls.

This is the “staircase” to get up and down to the actual lake. Yea. It’s steep. Pretty view tho.

After that insanity we needed a cheeseburger at Vicco’s Charcoal Burger. Since it’s Colorado, even the little stands have buffalo burgers, which I had and it was AWESOME.

We mostly drove back along I70 again (I hate doing this!) and it was super pretty. It follows the Colorado and Eagle Rivers the whole way. You can see the river better from this side of the road than the other. It’s fun to watch the kyackers and rafters and stuff on the river. And the canyons are steep and rocky and really pretty.

Stopped at Starbucks in Edwards. It’s a funky little town. Seems like it’s all new but made to look old. DM hated it. I thought it was kind of charming. Also, I had forgotten till we got there and took a wrong turn and ran across Larkburger. I’ve been wanting to go there! Funny too cuz as we were sitting at the other place I was remembering I had read about Larkburger. I couldn’t remember it’s name or where it was but I had the feeling it was nearby. Oh well, maybe next time.

When we got back home we were FINALLY able to have a slice of the pie we bought. It was delish!

Nickels and Dimes

Ok so, we’re not poor. We’re really not. We have decent jobs, money in savings, some credit card debt but not 10’s of thousands, no car payments, no student loans. But sometimes things get tight (with me working freelance and trying to support a home in Los Angeles that I don’t even live in). We also like to travel and want to save up for some fun trips.

Rather than burn thru our savings we want to cut our expenses. Our main expenses are food and going out. We like going out drinkin’. And eatin’.  As you can probably tell from this blog. At the moment we spend about $125 a week on groceries and probably between $75 and $125 going out to eat and drink. We want to change this to about $75 per week in groceries and $ 50- $75 per week in going out. This CAN happen and we’ll keep you posted as to how we do it without ruining our lives.

I shop at Whole Foods because healthy food that doesn’t wreck the earth is important to me. I’ve been to Safeway and I am not convinced that it’s cheaper than Whole Foods. Maybe Walmart is but there’s so much wrong with Walmart that I can’t bring myself to shop there unless it’s an emergency. So I’ll probably continue to shop at Whole Foods and let you in on some of their good deals.

Another way to save money that we recently discovered by accident is that there are a hell of a lot of Happy Hours here in Colorado Springs. And they’re not just at normal Happy Hour time, either, some of them are in the middle of the night! Awesome! We’ll let you know about these, too.